The 20-year-old Gloucestershire rider Scott Redding shed his Mr Consistency image at Silverstone yesterday to claim a daring victory that takes him a giant step closer to becoming Britain’s first world motorcycle champion since Barry Sheene 36 years ago.
Redding could have settled for a safe second rank on the podium as he came under continuous pressure from the Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami in the Moto2 race at the British Grand Prix. But after losing the lead for three laps, Redding tigered back to score his third win of the season for Belgium’s Marc VDS team.
“That was amazing,” he said. “This morning my mechanic told me to forget the points and go for the race win. The crowd was pushing me, but it also had the effect of calming me down. It was incredible on the slowing-down lap to see the fans going crazy.”
Redding’s rival for the Moto2 title, the 22-year-old Spaniard Pol Espargaro, suffered a disastrous day, crashing after only three laps of the morning warm-up session, and in the race he could do no better than eighth place. This leaves Redding with a 38-point lead with only six rounds remaining.
Redding is already used to creating racing history. As a 15-year-old in 2008 he became the youngest rider ever to win a motorcycle grand prix, in the 125cc race at Donington Park. The victory also made him the first British rider to win in the 125cc class since 1973 and the first Briton to claim a grand prix in any class since 2001.
Now he could become Britain’s first world champion since 1977. His performances have already earned him promotion to the prestige MotoGP class in 2014, where he will ride a 210mph, 1,000cc Honda run by Italy’s former world champion Fausto Gresini.
Redding had only one real problem in yesterday’s race, when he braked his 600cc Kalex-Honda from 180mph in sixth gear and the machine dropped into neutral. “I wanted to backshift to third but got second gear, and it made the rear wheel lock up,” he said.
“I didn’t really know where Espargaro was. I was trying to check on the big TV screen but couldn’t see. I also looked at my pit board three or four times, but I’m coming out of the corner with the bike on the edge of the tyre and you only get a short time to try and read the board.”
Today Redding, who shuns the racing high life and prefers to drive his motorhome to European races rather than fly, will head for the next MotoGP round at Misano in Italy where, away from the attention of his British fans, he may well revert to his regularity formula.
“People say the job is now done in the championship, but it’s not over until the last round at Valencia in November,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep consistent. Race wins are always welcome, but if I’m in a battle with someone who might take a risk, I’ll take second place.”
The reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo kept alive his hopes of retaining his title on his Yamaha by defeating the upstart 20-year-old Marc Marquez in a 20-lap contest. Marquez dislocated a shoulder in a spectacular shunt in the warm-up session when he crashed and his Honda smashed into the Yamaha of the British rider Cal Crutchlow, who had already gone down.
“I thought that my weekend was finished, but I took some painkillers,” Marquez said. “I didn’t have enough power, especially when changing from left- to right-hand corners, but even like that I could stay with Jorge.”
Marquez dived inside Lorenzo on the last lap, but his fellow Spaniard retaliated to claim his fourth win of the season. Dani Pedrosa, the third of the Spaniards dominating this year’s title fight, finished third. Marquez now leads Pedrosa by 30 points, with Lorenzo a further seven points behind.
Crutchlow – he and his Tech 3 team battered by a total of three crashes during the weekend – finished seventh, but retains sixth place in the championship table. Another Briton, the 22-year-old MotoGP rookie Bradley Smith finished ninth on his Tech 3 Yamaha to score points for the ninth time in 12 races.